The supplies were presented in a ceremony at the store on Valley Street on April 5, attended by students from Golda Och Academy in West Orange and Aquinas Academy in Livingston, area clergy, elected officials, and Stop & Shop personnel.
Included in the bounty was matza, matza meal, shelf-stable milk, canned vegetables, fruit and fish, egg noodles, grape juice and apple juice, boxed mixes of potato kugel, soup mixes, and apple sauce.
Bobrow pantry cochair Diane Weiss, one of those who founded the facility back in 1991, said the food was set to be distributed to needy families on April 10. The pantry does a monthly distribution to between 150 and 180 households, some Jewish, some not. She said that most of their clients used to be elderly, but now they are seeing more and more families with children avail themselves of the pantry’s goods.
Addressing the gathering, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Dist. 27) described Stop & Shop as leader in the fight against hunger in New Jersey. “Its commitment to the community is to be commended,” she said.
Oheb Shalom’s Rabbi Mark Cooper said, “The bounty of the earth is not the property of any one person, but belongs to us all.” He emphasized that distribution from the pantry is done in such a way as to make it a comfortable experience for the recipients. “Ensuring that people in need are given what they need with respect is an essential Jewish obligation,” he said.
Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El in South Orange compared being trapped by poverty and food insecurity to slavery. “On Passover, we not only celebrate freedom from slavery but also acknowledge those who are still metaphorically enslaved in this country,” he said. “‘Let all who are hungry come and eat.’ This is a statement for all of us to live by — not just on Passover, but year-round.”
According to figures provided by Stop & Shop, almost one in five children in New Jersey — around 400,000 in total — are experiencing food insecurity.
While Stop & Shop has made holiday food donations at other locations, the corporation took over what had been a Pathmark store on first Valley Street last October, and this was its first venture of the kind at that venue. Arlene Putterman, manager of public and community relations for the corporation’s NY Metro Division, said, “We appreciate the efforts of the dedicated volunteers of the Bobrow Kosher Food Pantry and our elected officials as we work together to make this a joyful Passover.”